Resourceful Records Managers! Courtney Bailey, Chair, SAA Records Management Section 2019-2020

As Jessika knows, I’ve hesitated to participate in her series on Resourceful Records Managers because I suffer from a bit of imposter syndrome.  I’ve been on the Records Management Round Table/Section since 2015, and I think I’ve done some good work over the years on things like reviewing open source software programs and migrating and updating a records management bibliography into Zotero.  But I don’t actually manage records as a part of my job, hence my imposter syndrome. However, now that I’m Chair of the Records Management Section, I’ve decided I can’t put this off any longer!

1. What is your educational background?

I earned a Bachelor’s degree in history and a Master of Arts in Teaching at Duke University.  After teaching in a public high school in Durham for 16 years, I decided I needed a new intellectual challenge.  During the summers when I was teaching I often participated in professional development workshops, and I was fortunate enough to travel to a number of presidential libraries.  And as a history student, I’d done a lot of research in archives, so it seemed a logical transition to consider archival work. I got an MSLS from the School of Information and Library Science (SILS) at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, focusing on the archives and records management (ARM) track.

2. What is your role at your institution?

I’m a Records Analyst at the State Archives of North Carolina.  In this role, I consult with state and local governmental agencies along with community colleges and UNC system institutions on the creation, maintenance, and disposition of information in all formats and media.  I provide advice on public records concerns, electronic records, filing and storage systems, and disaster recovery. And I regularly conduct records management workshops.

3. How did you first become interested in records management?

In my formal coursework, the primary exposure to records management came in an appraisal class.  Whenever I had the opportunity to focus my own research, I tried to focus on a topic that would fill in a gap for me, and in this case, I looked into records management in the business arena.  I discovered there’s a logic to good records management that really appeals to me.

4. What led you to choose your current career in records management?

There’s no glamorous way to answer this question.  I fell victim to the surfeit of archival students that are pumped out of library science schools every year, and I didn’t have the flexibility to chase a job anywhere around the country.  Because of my teaching and research backgrounds and my good people skills, I thought I would be a good reference archivist. But when a job became available at the State Archives of North Carolina in the Records Analysis Unit, I saw a way to develop my skills in the records management arena while also being able to use my teaching abilities in creating and delivering workshops and online tutorials.

5. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I like the opportunities I have to employ my expertise to ease people’s fears about possibly doing the wrong things with their records and to provide them with the knowledge and confidence to carry out their duties successfully.  As someone who likes to solve problems and who thinks well on my feet, I operate well in situations where people ask me very specific and sometimes quite technical questions about their records. And I also love that my job is not a traditional desk job.  I’m frequently out of the office for a number of reasons:

  • consultations with state agencies about records management questions
  • workshops for government employees about records management and public records law
  • appraisals of materials that might transfer to the State Archives
  • pickups of archival materials from local courthouses

 

6. Do you have a mentor who has helped you in the records management field?

About a year after I took my job as a records analyst for the State Archives of North Carolina, a colleague and I were tasked with leading a functional scheduling initiative to overhaul the way records are scheduled for state agencies.  Although both of us had good academic training in archives and records management, we were both relatively new to the field, so we were interested in learning what other states had already accomplished in this field. I realized when I was doing research for my master’s paper that archivists are generally ready and willing to share their expertise, so based on that assumption, we contacted Russell Wood at the Washington State Archives.  He’d been brought in from Australia based on his knowledge and experience with functional scheduling, and he graciously answered our many questions about his work on both continents and helped us get on the right path. When I attended the SAA annual meeting in 2016, I learned about the work Mike Strom had done in Wyoming, so I later followed up with him to discover more information about their development and implementation processes. After successfully launching the new Functional Schedule for North Carolina State Agencies in December 2017, I got back in touch with Russell and Mike, and they graciously agreed to team up for a panel discussion at the 2018 SAA annual meeting.

7. What would you consider to be your career highlight or greatest success?

The functional scheduling initiative that was originally a two-person assignment became a one-person job when my colleague moved on to a new position.  But I was still able to meet all of our benchmarks and complete the project on time. Where we’d previously had over 40,000 separate records series on hundreds of retention schedules for specific entities within state government, I was able to consolidate these into 700-some records series within 16 functions on the new schedule.  (You can find all the details in the case study I wrote for the Government Records Section.)

As I was working on these functional schedules, I was also working with university records officers from the UNC system institutions in order to update their decade-old general schedule.  This provided us with an opportunity to craft a schedule that more accurately reflects the recordkeeping practices of current institutions of higher learning by engaging with subject matter experts representing the various functions of university institutions.

8. What type of institutional settings have you worked in?

In both my teaching and ARM careers, I have worked in the public sector.  There are certainly advantages that come from this because you can find people who are incredibly devoted to their work (and must be to accept the lower salaries!).

9. What advice would you give to an individual considering records management as a career?

Be willing to ask for assistance.  There is a lot of very specialized knowledge involved in records management, so it’s hard for one person to be great at all of it.  I’ve found it especially useful to make my relationships with other government employees two-way streets – for instance, I used my expertise to help an HR office craft a good electronic records policy, then when I needed some clarifications about the proper handling of immigration documentation, I looked to them as subject matter experts.

10. Do you belong to any professional organizations?

I joined both the Society of North Carolina Archivists and the Society of American Archivists when I was a student at SILS, and I have maintained both memberships.  I was also a member of ARMA while I was a student, but once that rate was no longer available to me, I found it no longer feasible to remain a member.

11. Thoughts on the future of records management?

We as records managers need to do a better job of convincing people that good records management is the foundation for success in every realm, be it healthcare, corporate work, government work, or academic institutions.  The compliance aspect of RM is obvious, but I think it’s also important to emphasize the role good RM plays in continuity of organizations, whether that be in disaster recovery, strategic planning, or institutional memory in the face of staff turnover.  And although the professional literature may lead us to think otherwise, I believe there’s a great deal of synergy between records management and archival work. In any sort of institutional setting, good records management can ensure the records that have been appraised as having enduring value will be available to the archive.

12. What do you perceive as the biggest challenges in the records management field?

While I was a student at SILS, I became interested in how manuscript repositories handle born-digital records, and I wrote my master’s paper on this topic.  Although it’s been a number of years since I wrote this paper, some of the issues I raised especially about appraisal and access have still not been resolved with any consistent solutions throughout the ARM realm.  I also think maintaining privacy is a big challenge for records management, especially as more and more records are created and maintained electronically. Take something like health records – records managers had pretty much figured out how to protect the privacy of paper patient records, but with the proliferation of EHRs/EMRs, there are many more factors to consider (e.g., the vendor who stored the records, the browser that is used to access the records, etc.).  I also think it’ll be interesting to see how GDPR filters into the U.S. realm.

13. Besides focusing on work, what are some of your other interests or hobbies?

I’ve played tennis for a long time, and I also sing in the Chapel Choir at Duke University.  And because writing isn’t something required in my day-to-day job, I try to keep my skills sharp by maintaining my own blog about issues related to records management, archives, and libraries (https://cbaileymsls.wordpress.com/).

14. Do you have a favorite quote?

“Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.”

– Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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SAA Austin Recap #2! Acquisitions & Appraisal & Electronic Records Section Joint Section Meeting!

Author: Scott Kirycki, Digital Archivist, University of Notre Dame

Acquisitions & Appraisal + Electronic Records Section Joint Section Meeting at ARCHIVES*RECORDS 2019 

On August 3, 2019, members of the Acquisitions & Appraisal Section of the Society of American Archivists joined members of the Electronic Records Section for a combined annual meeting. The standing-room-only gathering examined the topic of digital appraisal through presentations and breakout sessions.

Business Meetings

After a welcome, opening comments, and an icebreaker, Marcella Huggard, Manuscripts Coordinator at the University of Kansas and Jess Farrell, Project Manager and Community Coordinator at the Educopia Institute led the section business meetings and reported on election results as well as activities of the sections from this past year. The Acquisitions & Appraisal Section has a newly-named Outreach Subcommittee that is working on ways to increase outreach. The Best Practices Subcommittee is documenting collection development policies, and the results will be available on the section’s microsite along with the popular Zotero bibliography of appraisal resources. The Steering Committee will be seeking an early-career member to join them. The Electronic Records Section is also seeking an early-career member for a community resource project and survey focused on resources for digital preservation. The Electronic Records Section blog (bloggERS!) served up twenty-seven new posts last year, and the section microsite was updated. 

 

Presentations

The first presentation of the meeting came from Christian Kelleher, Head of Special Collections at the University of Houston Libraries and was titled “Advocating for Appraisal.” Kelleher encouraged appraisers to consider not only what are the best messages for advocacy but also how best to engage receivers of advocacy. Kelleher suggested talking creators through the “why” of collection policies and not just the “what.” Kelleher also brought up the implications that appraisal has for the amount of material stored and the consequent environmental impact of storage.

The next presentation was a lightning round on tools for born-digital appraisal​:

  • Dorothy Waugh, Digital Archivist at Emory University, described Emory’s experience with the appraisal module of ePADD, a software package that supports archival processes for email archives. ePADD is designed to be used by donors on their own or by donors and archivists working together. Waugh found that less technically-savvy donors had difficulty using the appraisal module on their own, but it was still helpful for focusing conversations between donors and archivists about sensitive content that might be in the email. The archivists could then label the sensitive content prior to transfer to ePADD’s processing module.
  • Jessica Venlet, Assistant University Archivist for Records Management and Digital Records at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill introduced the tools Brunnhilde and Bulk Extractor. Brunnhilde is a characterization tool for directories and disk images. Venlet said that the summary reports from Brunnhilde help structure discussions with colleagues about large, heterogeneous collections. File format breakdowns facilitate technical and content appraisal and can surface unusual, unexpected, or unwanted files in collections. Bulk Extractor searches collections for strings of text. Venlet confirmed that Bulk Extractor is effective at finding text although the results of searches can be voluminous and hard to parse.
  • The tools that Waugh and Venlet covered are open source; Cat Lea Holbrook, Archivist at the Schlesinger Library spoke about FTK, a paid program that has some functions similar to those in the other tools as well as functions that go beyond. FTK offers format characterization and collects additional details that can be the basis for appraisal work. It also does deduplication of files and can be used to make bookmarks that correspond with finding aid arrangement. 
  • The lightning round was followed by a case study of a student project on appraising electronic state agency records​. Pat Galloway, archival educator at the School of Information, University of Texas at Austin and students Amy Padilla, Natasha Kovalyova, and Haley Latta were part of a team that worked to make sense of Texas Department of Agriculture files for the first Texas State Library and Archives Commission born-digital integration. The team came up with an appraisal approach for community development block grant files that lacked organization and did not map well to a retention schedule based around “documents” instead of digital materials. Recommendations included standardized naming conventions, linking retention periods more closely to grant period requirements, and smaller, more frequent transfers to make appraisal more manageable. 

The final presentation on collective approaches to electronic appraisal took the form of a panel discussion. 

  • Carla Alvarez, from the Benson Latin American Collection at The University of Texas at Austin explained how a whole team (rather than an individual archivist) makes the determination of whether or not a potential project fits the scope of the collection. The team involves donors in the appraisal process and works through the donor guidelines face to face. 
  • Bonnie Gordon and Jen Hoyer from the Interference Archive, a volunteer-run library and archive of materials about social and political activism, described how their organization is set up from the start to be collective. Working groups begin with the principle that everyone’s knowledge is valuable. Rather than one person deciding what to do, all make suggestions. All volunteers and donors have access to the published collecting policy, and reappraisal discussions take place as collections are added to.

Breakout Sessions

The section meeting concluded with an opportunity for attendees to process the wealth of information they had received from the presenters. Breakout sessions formed for further discussion of the topics raised. Links to session notes are here: http://bit.ly/SAAERS19.

Advocacy and Records Management

There is a school of thought that traditional records management is dead, a remnant of the past along with paper-based technologies. This is not entirely accurate. We know that records management continues to play, or has the potential to play, a vital role in the larger information governance framework.

Defining information governance is rather difficult. I particularly like Gartner’s official definition:

“Information governance is the specification of decision rights and an accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the valuation, creation, storage, use, archival and deletion of information. It includes the processes, roles, standards, and metrics that ensure the effective and efficient use of information in enabling an organization to achieve its goals.”

Information governance can be interpreted as a broad and inclusive framework or broad and exclusive. In Courtney Bailey’s survey of the membership to SAA’s Records Management Section, nearly 700 members belong to an academic institution or to a cultural/nonprofit organization. Approximately another 225 belonged to a governmental records management program. Just over 100 of our fellow section members identified themselves with a corporate organization.   

By and large, members of this section might not find ARMA’s Information Governance Implementation Model particularly inclusive. Within this figure, where do cultural heritage organizations such as libraries, museums, and archives reside? Perhaps with the vision-setting Steering Committee? This would presuppose that LAM environments are viewed as institutional information management authorities rather than as a cultural boon or as support services.

In Jackie Esposito’s Institutional Placement Survey – Records Management and Archival Services (published June 2017), nearly 40% of respondents reported that the placement of their institution’s records management program was in the archives; nearly 28% reported ‘Other‘, identifying units such as Library, Museum, IT, and the President’s Office. Of all the respondents, exactly half stated that while there is a Records Management Program in their organization, it “is more consultative in nature and not robust enough to manage 100% compliance”.

One can surmise that for many of us, while records management exists in our organizations, we often wield limited political power. How do we change this? Do we want to change this? Are we equipped with the appropriate labor and infrastructure to expand our reach? What exactly are we offering to the table at large? Can we deliver on our promises?

Regardless of the answers to these questions, we have a place on this hypothetical Steering Committee. The value we place on cultural memory, community partnerships, evidence, and historical record-building cannot be undervalued, nor should this value be underemphasized.

One area I believe we can cultivate is advocacy, represented on the above model as Service, Capabilities, Processes, and Authorities. Advocacy and outreach are complementary, but not synonymous. Advocacy is a political process in which an individual or group aims to influence policymaking. It is not enough to get our constituency to use the preferred archival boxes and folder list templates, to make them aware of our reading room availability. We need to know what we need, how to get it, and how to keep it.

Skills like negotiation, coalition building, risk assessment, change management, grand strategy – these are important qualities to cultivate, especially so for people who want to affect real change in the workplace. How do we grow and cultivate these skills? A traditional answer will include experience, but that surfaces even more questions – when contingent labor is de rigueur, how can archivists and records managers gain that political experience, especially when it is gained through interactions with the records creators themselves? Through committee work and policy engagement? Through previous work experiences?

In the course of the next year, it is my hope to explore these issues with you and to bring some voices to this conversation. Please stay tuned and as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me with questions, comments, and suggestions.

 

SAA Session Overviews- Post #1! Session 702 (“Documenting Current Events and Controversial Topics”)

Author: Steven Gentry

“The speakers consider innovative collections of born-digital materials from both the fringe and mainstream related to current events that contain controversial or sensitive materials. They address challenges related to collection scope, ethics of collection and access, liability, contexts for the collection, appraisal, access, technology, and staff safety. This session is relevant to any archivist who is considering web archiving or social media collection of current events.”

(https://archives2019.sched.com/event/NjR2/702-documenting-current-events-and-controversial-topics

Recap: Recap Introduction

Session 702 focused on web archiving efforts related to content that simultaneously documents recent events and–by its very nature–could be considered sensitive and/or controversial. In addition to discussing their specific case studies, the three panelists–Jennifer Weintraub (Librarian/Archivist for Digital Initiatives, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University), Jane Kelly (Web Archiving Assistant, #metoo Digital Media Collection, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University), and Samantha Abrams (Web Resources Collection Librarian, Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation)–also spoke of issues and questions that had to be addressed when collecting these challenging web resources.

Part 1: Documenting Current Events and Controversial Topics (Jennifer Weintraub)

Jennifer Weintraub began the session by introducing the panelists and highlighting some of its major themes and points:

  • “Controversial material”: Weintraub defined “controversial material” broadly–”it depends”– and noted that the Schlesinger Library, along with many other institutions, already collect this kind of content. She further emphasized the ubiquity of this kind of content in archivists’ professional lives.
  • “Current events vs. regular collections”: Weintraub further emphasized that archivists who may work with digital collections–especially those that have sensitive/controversial content–must act quickly and intelligently to preserve these resources. Archivists may need to conduct research, deploy novel tools, and implement imperfect, yet efficient, solutions–while also forming collaborative relationships with fellow professionals who are also engaged with this kind of work (e.g. other archivists and  information technology staff).
  • “Ethics”: Due to its nature, ethical concerns frequently arise when working with these archives. At the Schlesinger Library, an ethics statement guides archivists’ endeavors as they collect content related to the #metoo movement
  • “Emotion”: In addition to various ethical considerations, collecting controversial web archives can be an emotionally charged, difficult endeavor. Although these kinds of projects can be difficult to accomplish, Weintraub emphasized that emotions can, ultimately, help us better understand and embrace this kind of work.
  • “Some Caveats”: All of the panelists come from well-funded institutions, for example, and the panel itself only discusses two web archiving efforts. Therefore, the panel cannot claim to be comprehensively describing these kinds of web archiving efforts.

Weintraub then introduced the Me Too movement and the #metoo Digital Media Collection project, “a large scale project to comprehensively document the #metoo movement and the accompanying political, legal, and social battles”. She highlighted the necessity of collecting this exceptionally ephemeral, at-risk content owned by external parties–especially given the focus of the Schlesinger Library and the overall importance of the Me Too Movement–while also crediting Documenting the Now as one of the project’s major influencers. Other topics briefly addressed include a description of the initial steps involved in this project, such as developing a grant and forming relationships with other Harvard University staff and faculty members; the Schlesinger Library’s previous experiences doing web archiving work; and the project’s collecting scope.

Part 2: Jane Kelly: Collecting Material about the #metoo Movement

Jane Kelly continued the conversation about the #metoo Digital Media Collection project by discussing the effort in greater detail. Kelly addressed ethical considerations first and she noted that their research–which produced an ethics statement as well as a significant bibliography–produced in the following ideas and questions:

  • Legality and ethics are two very separate ideas. Therefore, Kelly emphasized approaching ethics from the position of individuals creating content.
  • Contextual approach to privacy,” which includes questions such as, “What do content creators believe about their right to privacy on the web? How does their personal context shape their understanding and expectations of privacy and anonymity?”
  • “Social network theory of privacy”, which emphasizes that users’ “expectations regarding their privacy [is]…based on the number, depth, and breadth of connections that users have on the web”.

Next discussed were the tools and workflows used to capture relevant forms of content–all of which can be learned and implemented by archivists, as Kelly emphatically articulated. These tools included:

  • Web content: Archive-It (the primary tool employed) and Webrecorder (content captured via Webrecorder was uploaded to Archive-It). Nearly 900 seeds have been collected, the bulk of which are single page crawls that have been crawled only once.
  • Twitter content: Social Feed Manager, as well as Twitter’s Historical PowerTrack (to capture older tweets). Ultimately, about 19 million tweets will be archived as part of this project.
  • News articles: Media Cloud. Ideally, Archive-It would be used to de-duplicate the approximately 384,000 resources captured via Media Cloud.

After discussing tools, Kelly addressed the kinds of questions that guided her collecting efforts–especially given the somewhat limited resources that were devoted to the project. Some of these questions included the following:

  • “Whose voices are represented?”: The content of those whose voices were less represented in this movement (e.g. non-white celebrities) could be considered more important to capture.
  • “Is it technically possible (and reasonably easy) to capture?”: Content that proved more difficult–especially if it was deemed less important or already present in other collections–could be disregarded.
  • “Is it valuable to have this content in this collection, even if it’s also captured elsewhere?”: Vitally important content that could be quickly obtained could be captured, even if such efforts were duplicative. This helped researchers understand the captured content, meaning that this non-unique content has value.
  • “How much context do we need to provide and do we have the resources…to do so?”: How much additional, related content should be captured in order for researchers to understand the web content? And is this additional effort worth the cost?

Kelly also briefly discussed an experimental workflow that uses Zotero to create descriptive metadata for web archives. In essence, metadata about various web resources was captured in a Zotero library and exported into a CSV spreadsheet where it could be cleaned up, mapped to Archive-It’s Dublin core metadata elements, and uploaded to Archive-It.

In her conclusion, Kelly addressed the consequences of working with these controversial and/or sensitive materials. In addition to advocating that the archivist take frequent, necessary breaks, she mused on whether working with these resources impacts our professional capabilities (e.g. via desensitizing the archivist who is constantly exposed to this content). Ultimately, Kelly argued that archivists should seek out “empowerment through empathy”–or positive examples– while also asking two key questions as they work on these projects:

  • “Does our work empower individuals and communities?”
  • “How can we advocate for changing practices to ensure that this is possible?”

Part 3: Samantha Abrams: Ivy Plus Libraries Partnership Framework for Collection of Web Archives

For her portion, Samantha Abrams focused on the Ivy Plus Confederation, several of its web archiving projects, and challenges associated with those projects. Abrams began her portion by introducing Confederation–“a partnership between thirteen leading academic research libraries…that collectively provide access to a rich and unique record of human thought and creativity through resource sharing and collaboration” and its Program, “a collaborative collection development effort to build curated, thematic collections of freely available, but at-risk, web content in order to support research at participating libraries and beyond”. She also briefly described the selection process for these various web projects–how, for example, subject specialists and information professionals from the Confederation’s many institutions come together to determine which web archiving projects will be undertaken. She also highlighted that projects brought forward by an individual from one institution must have support from someone affiliated with another institution–which, as noted later, can be a blessing and a curse.

After briefly introducing and discussing the Web Collecting Program’s evolution, Abrams discussed several web archives attempted or completed as part of this program (their descriptions from the Ivy Plus Confederation’s website are listed below):

  • State Elections Web Archive: “Campaign websites of declared candidates running for state elective offices in 2018 in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island”.
  • Brazilian Presidential Transition Web Archive: “Brazilian government websites in the areas of human rights, the environment, LGBTQ issues, and culture, for the period following the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil on October 28, 2018, up to his inauguration of January 1, 2019”.
  • Web content relating to immigrants trying to acquire political asylum in the United States: Ultimately, this collection was not created, as discussed later in the session.
  • Extreme Right Movements in Europe Web Archive: “Documents the rise of extreme right movements in Europe in the twenty-first century. Access is restricted to on-campus use within the Ivy Plus Libraries Confederation”.

Key questions that Abrams found herself addressing while working on these projects included the following: 

  • Speed (“How fast is too fast?”): Web content–as exemplified by the State Elections Web Archive–can rapidly change, even as the organizations that comprise the Ivy Plus Confederation more slowly discuss enacting and supporting various projects. This prompted Abrams to consider how to implement imperfect solutions that most effectively and efficiently collect relevant content.
  • Matter (“Who matters most?”): Although documenting recent events is vital, Abrams emphasized the necessity of considering the impact of archival efforts prior to engaging in a project. This question ultimately resulted in the rejection of one project related to undocumented immigrants seeking asylum, as there was concern that other institutions (e.g. the police) could use this web archive to the detriment of those individuals featured in it. Questions also arose concerning protecting staff members associated with the project as well as ethically acquiring content from creators.
  • Context (“What’s important contextually?”): Abrams noted the importance of questioning the home of these particular archives. She asked, for example, should the Ivy Plus Confederation host these web resources–or would they be more useful/understandable if they were kept at another institution, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center? 
  • Access (“How do you provide access?”): Access to these web archives was occasionally a fraught question–for example, should the Ivy Plus Confederation provide unfettered access to the Extreme Right Movements in Europe Web Archive, for example, and what are the consequences of doing so? Here, Abrams argued that archivists should draw upon their experience restricting access to physical collections to guide their decisions with restricting access to web archives.

Abrams concluded her portion of the session by asking critical questions about web archiving efforts and, importantly, if it supports our communities.

Part 4: Questions for Panelists

In this final section, the panelists opened up the floor to questions and comments from audience members. Some of these questions are noted below:

  1. How will the #metoo Digital Media Collection project be made available–and when?Response: Ideally by Fall 2019, although it depends on the kind of material (i.e. the web archives will likely be made available on time, while the availability of the Twitter data depends on when the data requested via Historical PowerTrack becomes accessible). Ultimately, web content will be made available via Archive-It and Twitter data will be made available via Harvard’s Dataverse.
  2. Has any of the panelists explored at commercial content moderation and its impact? Response: Not really. However, Kelly referenced an article recently published in the Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies concerning traumaResponse: An audience member also recommended that folks interested in this topic reach out to Wendy Duff, at the University of Toronto, who is currently researching this topic.
  3. What legal advice did Harvard’s counsel provide, especially concerning making Twitter feeds accessible as part of the #metoo Digital Media Collection project?Response: Ultimately, the archivists will hold to Twitter’s terms of service. Response: Additionally, Harvard’s counsel said there should be no issue concerning the collection of copyrighted content, since it will take researchers quite a while to find  this data. This means that there will be no negative financial impact associated this collecting effort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2019-2020 Records Management Section Steering Committee

Jessika Drmacich is our new Vice Chair/Chair-Elect.  Jessika is Williams College’s Records Manager and Digital Resources Archivist.  This is her fourth year serving on the records management steering committee.  Based in Williamstown Massachusetts, Jessika leads the records management program and navigates records policies specific for small liberal arts colleges.  She also leads digital projects, digital preservation, and web archiving.  She greatly enjoys people and this is absolutely her favorite part of her work!

photo of Jessika DrmacichAs an information professional, Jessika views archives and records management as an essential way to actively promote bringing many voices to the table.  In addition to the administrative and academic units on campus, she works with student groups and activists on campus in order to preserve their records/histories using collaborative archiving techniques and unofficial records retention schedules. Preservation and archiving of student memes at Williams is one of her current projects.

With the College’s digital collections, Jessika is passionate about reformatting the wide array of materials and managing born-digital records in special collections and making them accessible.  In her upcoming terms as vice-chair and chair of the records management steering committee, she plans to develop a basic records management toolkit/zine on how to encourage digital disposition and transfer compliance for small institutions.

photo of David BrownDavid Brown is beginning a 3-year term on the steering committee.  David is the Archivist and Head of Records Management Services at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  He provides leadership on records and information management and ensures that the SEC follows federal laws regarding records creation, maintenance, and disposition  David deeply believes that the complete archivist is also a records manager.  This is David’s first year as an RMS steering committee member, and he looks forward to contributing to the section and promoting records management as essential for achieving archival goals.

Krista Oldham photoKrista Oldham is also beginning a 3-year term on the steering committee.  Krista is the University Archivist at Clemson University, where her responsibilities include overseeing the acquisition, description, and preservation of University records, as well as supporting and promoting their use.  Additionally, Krista is responsible for assisting in developing and managing a comprehensive, institution-wide records management program.  She earned a M.I.S. from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and earned both a M.A. in History and a B.A. in History from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.  Prior to starting her position at Clemson, Krista worked at Haverford College as the College Archivist/Records Manager for Quaker and Special Collections and at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Special Collections as the Senior Archivist and the Senior Archives Manager.  In addition to her archival work, Krista served as Co-Director of the Arkansas Delta Oral History Project, an initiative led by the endowed Brown Chair in English Literacy.  She is a co-author of The Arkansas Delta Oral History Project: Culture, Place, and Authenticity, which was published in 2016 by Syracuse University Press.

These newly elected steering committee members join Elizabeth Carron, Holly Dolan, Hillary Gatlin, and Ivy West, who are continuing their terms.  You can find more information about them in last year’s post.  We all look forward to serving you in the coming year.

Archives Records 2019 RMS Annual Meeting

photo of RMS annual meetingNearly 100 people came together last Saturday in Austin, Texas, for the annual meeting of the Records Management Section.  The Society of American Archivists and the Council of State Archivists shook up the schedule this year, so Saturday was a day full of section meetings.  We were pleased with the interest and engagement of the folks who attended.

As the current chair of the section, I presented a brief business report of the steering committee’s activities for 2018-2019.

  • 20 blog posts on The Schedule, ranging from scheduling email to wrangling Google Team Drives and including a new entry in our ongoing series profiling Resourceful Records Managers
  • Posted seed topics for conversations on our listserv during Records and Information Management month in April
  • Continued adding new resources to our Zotero bibliography
  • Hosted two online Hangouts:

I also reported the recent election results, with nearly 200 section members participating:

  • Jessika Drmacich, Records Manager and Digital Resources Archivist at Williams College, will be stepping into the role of Vice-Chair for the coming year, to be followed by a year as Chair, and then a year as Immediate Past Chair.
  • We also have two new steering committee members, who will serve 3-year terms:
    • David Brown is the Archivist and Head of the Office of Records Management Services at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
    • Krista Oldham is the University Archivist at Clemson University

Along with the ballot, we included some survey questions for the section, and we received some good feedback that will help us shape our priorities for the coming year.  Stay tuned for more information on the substantive data, but here’s a look at the demographic data:

graph of education for RMS
All respondents have a college degree, and nearly 90% also have a master’s degree.

graph of certifications among RMS members
About half the voters answered this question about additional certifications. In the Other category, Digital Archives Specialist was most common.

graph of RMS longevity
Nearly 60% of respondents indicated having 10+ years of experience in the field.

graph of RMS institutions
Academic institutions are by far the largest employer of section members, and about a quarter of us work for some level of government.

The bulk of our meeting was spent learning from various panelists about their transformative work in the realm of records management.

  • Jessika Drmacich spoke about her work with collaborative archiving of student records at Williams College and the vital role of relationship building.
  • Katie Howell, University Archivist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, talked about her efforts to groom records liaisons on her campus and to create visually appealing reminders about the importance of good records management.
  • Sarah Jacobson, who is Manager of Recorphoto of panel for RMS annual meetingds Management Assistance at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, spoke to us both about their transition in how they teach records management, focusing more on facilitated learning rather than lecture courses, as well as about their recent clarification of the career ladder for records managers in government positions, which now allows for internal promotion.
  • Krista Oldham, University Archivist, and Brenda Burk, Head of Special Collections and Archives at Clemson University, talked about how they are institutionalizing records management on their campus through the creation of an Advisory Council that brings together Special Collections & Archives, the Office of General Counsel, and the Office of Internal Auditing.
  • Kelly Spring, Access Archivist at East Carolina University, described their work process for migrating data into ArchivesSpace from Archivists’ Toolkit and other homegrown databases.

If you are interested in seeing the slides that accompanied this meeting, they are available here.

I would like to challenge everyone to come up with at least one way in which you can become involved with the Records Management Section this year.  If you have a topic or a work product that you’d like for us to consider adding to our developing agenda, please contact any steering committee member or send us an email at saarecordsmanagement@gmail.com.  You can always post to our discussion list through SAA Connect, and if you’d like to write a post for our blog, once again, please reach out to the steering committee.

If you need some motivation, consider this story I learned while I was in Austin.  In the years before Texas became part of the United States, Sam Houston (president of Texas) wanted to move the capital from Austin to Houston.  He recognized that the government archives identified the seat of power, so he sent a military detachment to remove the records from Austin.  A vigilante group known as the “Committee of Safety” was prompted into action by an innkeeper named Angelina Eberly, who fired a cannon to alert people to the danger.  The people of Austin recovered the government archives and preserved Austin as the capital.  No one can argue records don’t matter!

photo of Angelina Eberly statue
sculpture of Angelina Eberly (by Patrick Oliphant)

July 24, 2019 Hangout announcement: “Laboratories of democracy”

The next SAA Records Management Section Hangout will be on Wednesday, July 24, at 1:00 PM Eastern/12:00 noon Central/11:00 AM Mountain on our section’s YouTube page. Our topic is “Laboratories of democracy: Records management and the public at the state and local levels.”

Federal records issues have dominated the news for the last couple years. But on a daily basis, the records management decisions made by state and local government officials affects citizens’ daily lives in dramatic ways. While all Americans have similar access abilities to federal records, the enormous variation in records management practices and freedom of information laws between states and local governments mean that citizens in one jurisdiction might be able to access one set of records that citizens in another jurisdiction may not have the same ability to access.

All are welcome to join the Society of American Archivists Records Management section in a discussion with Sarah Jacobson (Texas State Library and Archives Commission) and Kathy Marquis (Wyoming State Archives) about transparency and public interest regarding records at the local and state levels. We will be monitoring the YouTube comments section and Twitter for questions for our speakers. Please use the #saarms hashtag on Twitter to ensure maximum visibility for your question, or leave it as a comment ahead of time at the RMS Blog. Look forward to seeing you there!